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Santana spins gold

Useless John Santana Information
In case you haven't been paying attention to developments in the Central Time Zone, we have a new dominator on our hands. He's Twins left-hander Johan Santana. And his recent stretch of sheer unhittability includes all of these feats:

  • Santana has ripped off 10 straight starts of four hits or fewer and no more than two earned runs (in 6 IP-plus). And no other pitcher in the expansion era (1961-present) has had a streak that long of starts like that. The previous longest streaks, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:

    1989 Mike Moore, A's, 8
    2002 Andy Benes, Cardinals 7

    1994 David West, Phillies 7

    1973 Bill Parsons, Brewers 7

  • Santana just ran off another streak of seven straight games with nine strikeouts or more. Last pitcher to do that: Randy Johnson, in 2001. Even Nolan Ryan only had one streak like that in 26 years (11 in a row, May-July, 1977).

  • That stretch by Santana also included five straight double-figure strikeout games. That's not unprecedented, but only four other pitchers in the last 20 years have done it. Maybe you've heard of them:

    Randy Johnson (seven times)
    Pedro Martinez (six times)
    Curt Schilling (five times)
    Nolan Ryan (once)

  • Other amazing Santana feats:

    * He made six starts in July -- and gave up a total of 14 hits.
    * The poor schlubs who had to hit against him batted .095 in July.
    * Going into his start Saturday, he'd given up three hits or fewer in seven straight starts.
    * In 77 innings since June 15, he has almost four times as many strikeouts (102) as he has allowed hits (27).

    Useless Diamondbacks Information

  • How 'bout those Diamondbacks? They just had the two longest losing streaks in the history of the franchise (11 and 14 games) -- and not just in the same season. They had them in a span of 34 games.

    To find the last team to have two losing streaks that long that close together, according to Elias, you have to go all the way back to Casey Stengel's beloved 1963 Mets.

    That Mets team lost 15 in a row from June 28-July 14, then started an 11-game losing streak four days later. But we're betting Casey had a lot more funny quotes than Al Pedrique.

  • Including those two semi-endless losing streaks, the Diamondbacks played 34 games between June 18 and July 25 -- and won four of them. The East Valley Tribune's Ed Price reports that only four other teams in the last 60 years have had a streak worse than 4-30:

    2002 Orioles (4-32)
    1996 Tigers (4-31 and 4-32)
    1982 Twins (4-33 twice)
    1949 Senators (4-34)

  • Thanks to the All-Star break and that 14-game losing streak, the Diamondbacks went a scary 18 days between wins -- from July 8 to July 26. In between wins, according to Ed Price, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 278.37 points.

  • Price also reports that the Diamondbacks have done something we bet very few teams have ever done:

    They have gone more than a month without ever gaining on the leader in their division on any day. Since they pulled within 15 games of first on July 4, they've either lost ground or stayed the same every day since. Hard to do.

  • And one more incredible Diamondbacks trick from Price: They're just the second team in the division-play era -- and fourth since 1940 -- to lose 11 straight one-run games. They haven't won one since June 11.

    The other teams to do that: 1983 Angels (11), 1967 A's (11) and 1958 Tigers (14).

    Really Useless Information

  • In case you hadn't noticed the strange saga of Diamondbacks rookie Edgar Gonzalez, in each of his first three starts this year, his team lost by exactly the same score (10-3). (Then he broke the monotony with a 10-2 loss in his fourth start.)

    We couldn't stop ourselves from asking the Elias Sports Bureau to look this up. And it found Gonzalez was the first pitcher in history whose team lost three straight starts by precisely the same score, and lost those games by at least seven runs. Amazing.

  • About 3 trillion readers thought it was truly spectacular that the Reds and Astros played a game last Friday that got suspended -- and when it resumed the next day, the winning pitcher (Cincinnati reliever Josh Hancock) was a guy who was playing for a different team (the Phillies) when the game began.

    With the help of Retrosheet founder Dave Smith, we went through all the suspended games since 1989 -- and couldn't find any instance in which the winning pitcher in any game was someone who had been playing for another team when that game started. So we guess we'll keep searching.

    Nevertheless, it reminds us of the greatest suspended-game feat we ever heard of:

    In a suspended game in the International League in 1986, a guy named Dale Holman managed to get a hit for both teams (Richmond and Syracuse) in the same game. And that's a record, we can safely say, that will never be broken.

  • Has anybody figured out that Rangers offense? They're on a pace to score nearly 900 runs. Yet there have already been two occasions this year where they've been shut out in back-to-back games (May 26-27 by the White Sox, and July 27-28 by the Angels).

    Well, we knew it was rare for a lineup that potent to do something like that. But we didn't know how rare, until Elias looked it up.

    The last team to score 850 runs in a season but still get shut out back-to-back twice? It was, of course, Charlie Frisbee's 1899 Boston Beaneaters. They did it twice and still scored 858 runs that year.

  • As long as we're talking back-to-back shutouts, two teams just threw them on exactly the same days (July 21-22). That was the Cardinals (vs. Milwaukee) and the White Sox (vs. Cleveland).

    It had been 12 years, according to Elias, since that happened. And, in a note that sums up just how bizarre baseball can be, the last time it did, three teams threw back-to-back shutouts on the same days (July 17-18, 1992):

    Orioles (vs. Texas), Mets (vs. San Francisco), Braves (vs. Houston).

  • More Useless Shutout Info: Carlos Silva twirled a fascinating 11-hit complete-game shutout against the Angels on Tuesday, complete with six double-play balls.

    Retrosheet.org's Dave Smith reports it's the first six-DP shutout in the division-play era. But how about all those hits?

  • Last 11-hit complete-game shutout: May 6, 2000 -- Curt Schilling (Phillies) over the Braves.

  • Last complete-game shutout in which a pitcher allowed more hits than that: June 2, 1998 -- a Dennis Martinez 12-hitter, for the Braves, over the Brewers.

  • Most hits ever allowed in a complete-game shutout: 15, by Walter Johnson (in 15 innings), on July 3, 1913 (Senators over Red Sox).

    Really, Really Useless Info

  • What is it about guys named Abbott who pitch for the Phillies?

    In 1992, they acquired Kyle Abbott from the Angels, and it took him 14 starts to win a game. This year, they signed Paul Abbott, and it took him eight starts to win a game.

    Combined record of those two Abbotts as Phillies starters (through Thursday): 2-19 in 28 starts, with a 5.22 ERA.

  • There's something about Mark Bellhorn that fascinates us. His batting average is only .256, but his on-base percentage is .373. Here in the 2000s, just three other players have had an on-base percentage at least that high but an average at least that low:

    But those guys aren't very Bellhorn-esque. So the last player to have a season like Mark Bellhorn was, well, Mark Bellhorn -- as a Cub, in 2002 (.258 average, .374 OBP).

  • Angels reliever Kevin Gregg threw four wild pitches in one inning July 25. So how hard is that?

    His teammate, Brendan Donnelly, has spent three years in the big leagues, faced 585 hitters and thrown 2,398 pitches -- and has thrown just two wild pitches in his career.

  • At least Alfonso Soriano treats all his ex-teammates equally. On July 4, he hit a home run off Andy Pettitte. Ten days later, in the All-Star Game, he hit a home run off Roger Clemens.

  • When the Indians put a 14 on the scoreboard July 20, then gave up exactly 14 the next day, it seemed like more of a football feat than a baseball feat. But since the Browns resumed life in the NFL in 1999, they've scored 14, then allowed 14 the next game just once -- in Weeks 5 and 6 of the 2001 season (vs. the Bengals and Ravens).

  • It's usually a good thing to hit four home runs in one game -- but not if you're the Mets. Counting their 19-10 loss in Montreal on July 27, they're now 3-4 this year in games in which they homer four times. The other 29 teams are 81-26.

    The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Mets have tied the prestigious NL record for most losses in a season when homering at least four times. They share it with the 1970 Padres, 1995 Rockies and 1999 Rockies. The major-league record is five, by the 1987 Indians.

  • Loyal reader Noah Veltman watched Barry Bonds whiff twice in a July 15 Giants-Rockies game and wondered how often that's happened. Well, less often than a full moon, anyway.

    Since June 23, 2003, Bonds has had exactly three multi-strikeout games (last Sept. 27 against the Dodgers, April 7 vs. the Astros and that July 15 game). In the same span, he has had 75 multi-walk games and 19 multi-intentional-walk games.

  • As Miguel Tejada heads for somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 RBI and 30 homers, loyal reader Justin Fenton wonders what the record is for biggest gap between homers and RBI in a season.

    The modern record (an incredible 143) is held by Hank Greenberg, who knocked in 183 runs in a 40-homer season in 1937. But since the 1940s, only three players have accumulated 120 more RBIs than homers:

    Vern Stephens, 1949 (159 RBI, 39 HR, PLUS-120)
    Tommy Davis, 1962 (153 RBI, 27 HR, PLUS-126)
    Manny Ramirez, 1999 (165 RBI, 44 HR, PLUS-121)

  • The amazing Ichiro Suzuki just had his second 50-hit month of the season (he also did it in May) -- and third of his career.

    Last player before this to have two 50-hit months in one season, according to Elias: Joe Medwick, in July and August, 1936.

    Last player with three 50-hit months in a career: Pete Rose. Except it took Rose 17 seasons. It has taken Ichiro a little more than 3 ½.

  • They moved the fences back in San Juan this year before the Expos launched their 21-game schedule there. And you might say the hitters noticed.

    Expos media-relations whiz John Dever reports that Expos right-handed hitters hit zero home runs in those 21 games.

  • Strange but true: On July 20, the Blue Jays and A's played a 14-inning game in less time (3 hours, 39 minutes) than it took the Red Sox and Mariners to play a nine-inning game (3:50).

  • When the Padres told Jake Peavy to throw strikes July 21, he apparently took that literally. Loyal reader Mark Thoma reports that, in one stretch in the fifth and sixth innings, he threw 22 strikes in a row to seven different hitters.

    Then, of course, he ended the streak by throwing four straight balls to Michael Tucker.

  • Devil Rays PR genius Rick Vaughn reports that it took five games for the Devil Rays to beat Kevin Brown this season. But when he finally did lose July 25, it wasn't to the Rays' big-league team. It was to their farm team in the New York-Penn League, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

    Brown gave up four runs to them in six innings. In four starts against the major-league Devil Rays, he's 4-0, with a 1.88 ERA.

  • In the most historic pitching matchup of the month, that July 19 Orioles-Royals game featured Sidney Ponson (who had lost nine straight starts) vs. Brian Anderson (who had lost eight straight starts).

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the fourth time in history that two pitchers who had lost that many starts in a row faced each other -- and the first since 1907. The others:

    Aug. 13, 1907 -- Art Fromme, Cardinals (8) vs. Irv Young, Braves (9)
    July 3, 1906 - Frank Kitson, Senators (8) vs. Joe Harris, Red Sox (9)
    Sept. 30, 1902 - Henry Thielman, Giants (12) vs. Roscoe Miller, Reds (10)

    And the winner was ... Ponson (Orioles 7, Royals 4). Amazingly, neither of them has lost a game since.

    Boxscore Lines of the Month
    WALKATHON DIVISION

    Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, July 28 vs. the Reds:

    4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 10 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 118 pitches (more than half of them balls) to get 14 outs. And after all that, his team won (11-10).

  • Last pitcher before Suppan to walk 10 in a game: Jason Jennings (Rockies) vs. the Padres on Sept 8, 2002 (in 5 1/3 1 IP).

  • Last pitcher to walk 10 and not even make it through five innings: Scott Ruffcorn (Phillies) vs. the Marlins on June 24, 1997 (in 4 1/3 1 IP), in a game his team also won.

  • Last Cardinals pitcher to walk 10 or more: Steve Carlton vs. the Giants on July 3, 1971 (10 BB in 5 2/3 2 IP).

    15-HITTER DIVISION

    Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings, July 20 vs. the Padres:

    6 IP, 15 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP.

  • Last pitcher to toss a 15-hitter, according to retrosheet.org: Barry Zito vs. the Devil Rays, on July 8, 2003.

  • Last National League right-hander to give up 15 hits or more: Bob Forsch (18 hits in RELIEF) vs. the Reds, on Aug. 30, 1989.

  • Last pitcher to give up more than 15 hits: Mike Oquist (A's) vs. the Yankees on Aug. 30, 1998 (16 hits in 5 IP).

    MYSTERY-PITCHER DIVISION

    Our old friend, Todd Zeile, sure screwed up his 0.00 career ERA on July 26, when he wandered into a 14-8 game in Montreal and unfurled this epic performance:

    1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, one career ERA that inflated to 22.50 by the time he left the mound.

    With the help of Elias, we determined that Zeile was only the ninth position player in the division-play era to give up five runs or more in an ill-advised pitching escapade. Here are the other eight -- every darned one of them:

    Manny Castillo, Mariners, 1983 -- 7 R, 2 1/3 IP
    Larry Bittner, Cubs, 1977 -- 6 R, 1 1/3 IP
    Derek Bell, Padres, 2000 -- 5 R, 1 IP
    Rod Brewer, Cardinals, 1993 -- 5 R, 1 IP
    Keith Osik, Pirates, 2000 -- 5 R, 1 IP
    John Mabry, Mariners, 2001 -- 5 R, 1/3 IP
    Larry Harlow, Orioles, 1978 -- 5 R, 2/3 IP
    Manny Alexander, Orioles, 1996 -- 5 R, 2/3 IP

    The Sultan's Corner

  • When the Indians began busting out in threes last month, it caused the Sultan of Swat Stats, SABR's David Vincent, to start pounding on his keyboard. And the classic home run notes started flying. First off, when Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner had three-homer games on the same road trip, it made the Indians just the fourth team in history to pull off that cool feat. The others:

    May 21-22, 1930 -- Yankees: Babe Ruth vs. A's, Lou Gehrig vs. A's.

    Sept. 10-15, 1950 -- Yankees: Joe DiMaggio vs. Tigers, Johnny Mize vs. Tigers.

    June 24-July 1, 1956 -- Reds: Ed Bailey vs. Dodgers, Ted Kluszewski vs. Cardinals.

    Sept. 25, 2001 -- Brewers: Jeromy Burnitz and Richie Sexson vs. Diamondbacks (same game).

  • Hafner, meanwhile, pulled off another exotic feat all by himself: He hit five home runs in 24 hours -- two in a night game July 19, three more the next afternoon. According to the Sultan, only five other men have ever homered five times in 24 hours (i.e., day game after night game, or a doubleheader):

    Stan Musial May 2, 1954 (DH)
    Joe Adcock July 30-31, 1954
    Nate Colbert Aug. 1, 1972 (DH)
    Dave Kingman July 27-28, 1979
    Barry Bonds May 19-20, 2001

  • And on July 20, Hafner and Albert Pujols became the 12th players in history to have three-homer games on the same day. The others, courtesy of the Sultan:

    July 4, 1939 -- Hank Leiber (Cubs), Jim Tabor (Red Sox)

    Aug. 2, 1950 -- Larry Doby (Indians), Andy Pafko (Cubs)

    June 6, 1965 -- Johnny Callison (Phillies), Tom Tresh (Yankees)

    July 26, 1970 -- Johnny Bench (Reds), Orlando Cepeda (Braves)

    Sept. 14, 1987 -- Mickey Brantley (Mariners), Ernie Whitt (Blue Jays)

    Sept. 15, 1996 -- Benito Santiago (Phillies), Frank Thomas (White Sox)

    Sept. 24, 1996 -- Mo Vaughn (Red Sox), Willie Greene (Reds)

    April 25, 1997 -- Ken Griffey (Mariners), Matt Williams (Indians)

    Sept. 25, 2001 -- Jeromy Burnitz (Brewers), Richie Sexson (Brewers)

    Aug. 10, 2002 -- Sammy Sosa (Cubs), Mike Lieberthal (Phillies)

  • As long as we're on this three-homer-game roll, Kevin Millar's three-homer eruption against the Yankees on July 23 represented only the third time any player had ever hit three homers in a Yankees-Red Sox game. The other two:

    June 23, 1927 - Lou Gehrig (Yankees)
    May 30, 1997 - Mo Vaughn (Red Sox)

  • Maybe our favorite home run feat of July was Carlos Lee's two-homer game off his namesake, Cliff Lee. The Sultan reports that was only the fifth multihomer game in history involving a hitter and pitcher with the same last name. The others:

    Aug. 29, 1986 -- Mike Davis off Storm Davis (2)
    Sept. 2, 1916 -- Cy Williams off Steamboat Williams (2)
    June 25, 1997 -- Chipper Jones off Bobby Jones (2)
    Aug. 7, 2003 -- David Ortiz off Ramon Ortiz (2)

  • When Gary Sheffield hit his 400th home run last week, it meant there were nine active members of the 400-Homer Club. And it will be 10, if Fred McGriff gets another job this year. According to the Sultan, this is the first time in history that nine 400-homer men have been active at the same time. The previous record was eight -- twice:

    2001 (8)

    Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff, Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Cal Ripken.

    2003 (8)

    Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro, McGriff, Griffey, Juan Gonzalez, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas.

    Before the 2000s came along, the old record was six (in both 1966 and '67) -- by a fabulous group:

    Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews.

  • On another bizarre evening at Coors Field on Wednesday, the Cubs and Rockies combined to hit zero homers in the first six innings -- and then six in the last three innings. The Sultan reports this was only the fourth game in history where that many homers were hit in the last three innings after none were hit in the first six. The others:

    July 18, 1942 -- White Sox at Yankees (6)
    June 7, 1976 -- Reds at Pirates (7)
    Aug. 26, 1998 -- Marlins at Cardinals (6)

  • Finally, two new ballparks opened this year (Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Petco Park in San Diego) -- and Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins hit the first inside-the-park homers in BOTH of them (June 20 in Philadelphia, Wednesday in San Diego).

    The Sultan reports he's just the second player in history to hit the first inside-the-parkers in the life of two different parks. The other: Fernando Vina (SBC Park in San Francisco on May 9, 2000 and Miller Park in Milwaukee on Oct. 2, 2001).

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

    Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Jayson a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.